tv Michael Morell on The Great War of Our Time CSPAN June 14, 2015 10:45am-11:49am EDT
booktv. talking about the agency successes and failures in the war on terror and its current fight against al qaeda and isis. >> michael morell has had a 30 year career in the cia. he was with president bush and briefed him shortly after the 9/11 attack and also with president obama during the bin laden raid in may of 2011. he's the author of a new bestseller, "the great war of our time" the cia's fight against terrorism from al qaeda to isis. he will be interviewed by cbs reporter david brian. ladies and gentlemen, michael morell and dave pride in. [applause]
>> that is for you. with your permission i would like to bask first of all thank you for being here. >> absolutely. i wanted to see how many people have had a chance to read the book and how many of you have gotten a copy of the book and are going to read it? that is great. you'll have a great time. it's an easy read and a fascinating book and a lot of important information, a lot of which is controversial. we will start interviews tonight with current issues taking place right now. i mean today.
reports on fox news and cnn today that the advisory terrorism for military personnel was raised to the bravo last because of information about a possible attack in the united states from isis. who better to ask about this in the former deputy director and acting director of the cia. tell me if this is something we need to be seriously concerned about. we hear these advisory sprays from time to time. what is the significance of this and how concerned should they be? >> i think it is a matter of time before there is another isis inspired attack in the united states. we've now had to. the first is in new york several months ago which was an attempted attack by a guy with a hatchet on two new york city police officers and a couple weeks ago the attempted attack in dallas.
both of those inspired by isis individuals in the united states who have never gone to iraq never gone to syria but who are doing the narrative and the message and decided to act. we are going to see that again. what we saw in the last couple days as a result of a couple things. one is that isis has repeatedly said we are going to attack the united states because of what the united states is doing against us in iraq. to come in a specifically called on people to attack u.s. soldiers and military installations. that is where the specific warning came from. we need to take it seriously. absolutely. >> another important issue about a portion of federal law double drum out of sunday at midnight unless the senate takes action to prevent you for that time. the phone records surveillance
program something you wrote about in your book in your appointed by president obama to look at this when it became public to reveal a lot of details about the program. if this meant that i sunday night, what affect will that have on domestic terrorism prevention? >> this is an important program. the telephone metadata program. what metadata means is the phone number that made the call the phone number that received the call and duration of the call. it's an important program. it fills the gap existing prior to 9/11 and i can prove this to you, but i believe if they were in place prior to 9/11 that we maintain communications between the 9/11 hijackers and so it's a very important program. but i also believe that is security cited where i come out
as. i also believe in the importance of privacy and civil liberties and there is given the amount of data and the type of data in the database the potential for government abuse. we know from our history this time of the government has abused its power. but we recommend to the president what our review group recommended was keep the program but don't have the government told the data anymore. the government accepted the recommendation. that is what they recommend to congress. that is that the house passed almost two weeks ago now on the u.s.a. freedom not and i hope the senate follows it and passes the same bill. it is important. >> let's move on to the next important issue that is current and that is then god save because last week the first batch of e-mails to former secretary of state hillary clinton were made public.
50000 e-mails and volunteered only 200 released at that time. there'll be more releases coming through january. first of all have you looked through the e-mails that were released and is there anything worthy? >> the pilots e-mails everyone is focused on from a friend of the clintons, said blumenthal sending her e-mails about libya prior to the benghazi bombings and about benghazi after the benghazi bombings. i have looked through all of those. i skimmed them. i didn't read them closely. i have to tell you i was underwhelmed. most senior officials in government, including me, get e-mails from friends and former colleagues providing you with
his daughter that letter please read this so i think this is important. it happens to all senior officials. it happened to the secretary. it's not unusual. sometimes he passed that year staff and say hey look at this. those e-mails never made their way into the highest level of the discussion. i never saw them until i read them two days ago. they never showed up in the deputy's conversation or principles conversation. i don't know if my analyst saw them or not. if my analyst at sea than they would put absolutely no credibility into the information because they would have no idea where the information came from. i don't think they're a big deal. >> were there any fewer e-mails? if the secretary and i never exchanged e-mails. she was a level above me. >> one about the issues that you talked about in your book. i will read a section out of your book.
those arguing against me believe by saying there had been a protest, one of the issues, was there a protest before the attack on benghazi or was this or was this a planned terrorism attack? those who believe by saying there had been a protest cia in conspiracy with the white house were trying to hide the head of the al qaeda attack and thereby protect president on the campaign theme that he was tough on terrorists. i think the issue in question was the first part of the analysis two days after the attack. they said the assault on the tms, the mission facility which the confluence and then god they have been a spontaneous event that evolved from a protest outside. that was the issue that people are concerned about. was it just a spontaneous sort
of eruption from a protester was this a planned terrorism attack? >> two days after the event when the analyst sat down to tell the president what they thought happened, they thought this was a protest that evolved into an attack. that was wrong. they did not get that right. but they didn't get it right because they were trying to be political. they didn't get it right because they didn't have the right information at their fingertips. the right information was not presented. they were doing their job calling it like they see it, being a referee being an empire. upon the judgment they made that day that's the only one that turned out to be wrong. other judgment they made turned out to be right. >> that is significant because the administration was saying we are tough on terrorism.
if this is a planned terrorist attack that would look so good. >> one of the things they said in the first few days one of the things they still believe today is there is very little preplanning. that this was not an attack that had weeks or months of planning. this was an attack that had hours of planning and you can actually see that we talk about this in the book. you can see that in the disorganization. the lack of a military style approach on the state department facility. you had guys running all over the compound, just looking like they were happy to be in the compound. you have bad try to kick down doors and almost a comical first goal fashion and they fail to not adore down. you have been successfully incite some buildings were theirs americans hiding and they
don't look for americans. one guy walked out with an xbox. another guy with the suit. you have been randomly setting fires. some buildings were theirs americans, some were there are. this is clearly event with not a lot of preplanning. the other two attacks that night, they were more like a military assault. there assault. there were two attacks on the facility and benghazi which was separate from the state department facility. i think those are more of a military assault because they had more time. they had additional hours to plan the attacks. >> two questions. first of all, it seems to me since you had not one but three attacks come as harder to believe this was something spontaneous that wasn't planned. the other thing is it seems to me what you're saying is the original attack on the mission was called by king arthur and
spontaneously decided let's jump over the fence. >> that's a very good question. the analysts believe and i believe that the analysts believe. i'm not just say that span. it is me too. the guys and benghazi saw what happened in cairo earlier in the day. it happened in cairo is a bunch of guys went through our embassy, got over the fence and set fire to vehicles and did a lot of damage. many analysts believe the guys and benghazi absolutely bad guys come extremist terrorists i would have been in cairo said let's do the same thing. they did the assault on the state department facility and they followed the state department guys from the state department facility to the cia facility, conduct an attack immediately and were repulsed. by my security guys.
they came up four hours later with much heavier weapon including mortars. one of the questions you have to ask yourself is people have pointed to these mortars as evidence of preplanning. this is evidence and the effectiveness of the mortar fire. one of the questions you have to ask yourself is if there was a lot of preplanning, why did they bring mortars to the first attack against the state department facility? why did they wait until nine hours later because the answer to that question is they just went and got the mortars at the last minute for the third attack. people say they brought five mortars, three of them were really effective. my question is why did they only bring five. libya was the country is awash in mortars. they had time to fire a lot more than five. they'll they fired five.
as i said most of their judgments have held up including the fact there was little preplanning. i've never seen significant evidence there was preplanning. >> we are going move onto the iraq war. you wrote in your book talking about suggested colin powell. on a number of occasions in recent years secretary powell has expressed chagrin no one has publicly come forward and apologized to him for putting his well-deserved reputation for probity at risk by arming them with bad intelligence used as the basis of the u.n. speech. the cia and the broader intelligence community failed him and the american public. as someone in the chain of command at the time of the iraq wmd analysis was provided i would like to use this opportunity to apologize to secretary powell. tell me about that. >> so there were too big at the time of come in the months leading up to the iraq war there were too big intelligence
judgments to be made. what is what was the steps of saddam hussein's weapons of mass destruction program and the second was what was the relationship between iraq and al-qaeda. on the first what was the status of his weapons of mass destruction program. analyst at the cia in fact the endless in the entire u.s. intelligence community the analysts in every intelligence service on the planet that looked at the question came to the same conclusion. this guy has chemical weapons. this guy has a biological weapons production capability and this guy is reconstituting his nuclear weapons program. that's what the analysts believe. they turned out to be wrong. all of these people who looked at this question turned out to be wrong. we can talk about why but we turned out to be wrong. the reason i apologize to colin powell is twofold. one is i think colin powell is a
remarkable american. i think he served his country with great distinction in job after job after job after job. he deserves he deserves a stellar reputation that he had going into this u.n. speech. this u.n. speech, and he did not say anything at the u.n. that the cia and the rest of the intelligence community did not believe. this u.n. speech tarnished his reputation. he is the first person to tell you that. i've heard them say that that iraq did in the presentation at the u.n. will be on his gravestone. yesterday this within. i've also been said nobody from the cia ever apologized. i was number three on the analytic side of the agency when we did the analysis that we got wrong. and so given all of that i wanted to apologize to him. and i also didn't want to
surprise him. i didn't wanted to pick up the book and see that it is in there so i sent him a chapter ahead of time. anticult and we talked for about 45 minutes, and he was deeply appreciative of the apology. >> would you agree the war was sold to the american public largely along the basis of wmd weapons of mass destruction? >> i wouldn't say sold. >> i didn't mean that in a negative way. >> president bush would have to tell you himself, but very important one of the main job of an analyst is to put things in context. one of the things i tried to do in the book is put some of these big decisions in context. what was the context which president bush made the decision right? 9/11 had just happened. largest single attack on america in our history. three those in people have just
been killed. the cia was telling him that saddam hussein one of our primary enemies, a sworn enemy of the united states had active weapons of mass destruction program including a nuclear weapons program. and we were telling him that saddam hussein supports international terrorist groups, not al-qaeda. not al-qaeda but palestinian terror groups. and so there since president bush just having faced this huge attack on the united states, understand that job and want of a president is to protect the american people. we tell you this guy has weapons of mass destruction and provide support to terrorist groups. so he's sitting there thinking you know if saddam uses these weapons against us or if saddam gets of these these weapons to terrorist groups and to to use these weapons against us why that could make 9/11 look small. i think that's what drove president bush to action in
iraq, and it's exactly what led a majority of congress to support him. for exactly the same reason. absolutely, absolutely the analysis on iraq having weapons of mass destruction put into this thinking, no doubt about it. >> these are tough calls and nobody gets them all right, but did the cia have an obligation to do more to find out more directly rather than based on circumstantial evidence? >> so great question. fabulous question, dave. when you read about when you read about the intelligence failure that was iraq weapons of mass destruction you agreed you agreed mostly about the failed analysis. in fact, there's been books written about it. academics have written articles. this has been studied to death and i've read it all. i was involved with this and i have read it all. but part of failure is something
that never gets talked about. part of the family was not just the analysts at the cia but the people at the cia were responsible for collecting secret. people at the cia who are responsible for recruiting other human beings to spy for the united states. they were not successful in getting a human agent close enough to saddam's inner circle to find out what saddam was really doing. and what he was really doing was was, was believing the only way to get out from underneath sanctions was to get rid of his weapons program. he believed the cia would see that. the cia would tell the president about it. the president would get rid of sanctions but they didn't want anybody else to know he'd gotten rid these programs because they were a deterrent to his main enemy, iran. he wanted to keep it secret that he had gotten rid of the program.
turns out, and by the way he plan all along to eventually go back to his weapons programs after sanctions went away. how do we know this? because he told us this afternoon was captured. we had long, long discussions with him and he told us exactly what he was thinking. so turns out that he overestimated the capabilities of the cia interestingly enough enough. >> for example, that deals with having access to nuclear redeveloping nuclear weapons my understanding is it was based on the fact that iraq had acquired aluminum casings that are often used in that process. but are also used for other things. >> right, right. >> it sounds shady to me. >> well, no. the aluminum tubes, we can talk about aluminum tubes if you want speed i don't know if we need to go into a lot of detail. >> just let me say this.
that was one of the factors that led to the analyst to the nuclear conclusion. they were a lot of others. the department of energy, which concurred in the judgment that saddam was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program, didn't buy the aluminum tubes argument but thought the rest of the arguments were strong enough to make a judgment. >> did the cia ever did an analysis of what to expect if we go to war in iraq and what the ultimate outcome could be? >> so i think, you know we did it in different places. i think we owed president bush before he went to war we owed them what's called a national intelligence estimate, which is the kind of elite analysis by the intelligence community. we owed him you are the implications if you go to war. here's what to expect and iraqis
society, iraq utah takes if you go to war right? here's what's important from here are the key factors that will determine if this place to stay stable or this place becomes unstable. i think we did it in pieces but we didn't pull it in one place for him. >> because when you look at what happened it's not a pretty picture. saddam hussein is gone but aside from that, iran has emerged as a huge world power because we talked about iraq is the main country -- main country holding back. isis and al-qaeda had a field day. in your book you talk about that. now they're taking huge portions of territory back. >> in the book would actually say in the book is that and i really believe it the decision to invade iraq at the end of the day i don't think was a decision that brought about the instability in iraq. the decisions that brought about the instability in iraq were the
debaathification decisions by the coalition provisional authority. those after the military operations ended and we were in charge of iraq there were two decisions. the first two decisions of the coalition provisional authority were one to remove from the government anybody who is a member of the party. and to basically disband any organization that had a very very close relationship with the trend one party. does in the collapse of the iraqi military the iraqis a duty service and the iraq intelligence service. because all those guys were member of the baath party. all of a sudden they didn't have jobs anymore. what did they do? a whole bunch of them went to work for the insurgency as a whole bunch of them went to work for al-qaeda in iraq because they were mad, number one. and number two, they actually
got paid by those organizations. it was those two decisions i think with the critical decisions that led to the instability. >> when you look back at the former deputy director of the cia, speaking for itself, not on behalf of the agency, were you satisfied with how things worked out in iraq? >> of course not. i mean it's a mess. it's a mess. but one of the things you to think about is what with the place look like today if we have not done that? you've got to do the counterfactual. what would iraq look like today if we had not invaded iraq? let me give you a possibility. who knows but let me give you a possibility. so sanctions would eventually got away without a doubt that there's no way that the united states didn't hold sanctions get over the long term. it would've gone away. he would restart his weapons
program and he would've had chemical weapons again. he would've had a biological weapons capability and probably would've developed a nuclear weapon. so either you would've had to do with it if you saw it happening or he would have won. then you fast-forward and you say okay what happened in tunisia, what happened in egypt what happened in bolivia, what happened in syria in terms of the arab spring could have easily happened in iraq. in other words saddam's people rise up and say we want you to go away. so you might have a country that has these weapons of mass destruction that have the same instability today. so there's no, can look back and say that if we had not done this that iraq wouldn't like it is today that it could easily look like this today with nuclear weapons. >> one of the things you talk about the next benghazi and iraq were was the politicalization of
intelligence by the administration in power at the time, one democrat, one republican. in fact, with regard to the lead up to the iraq war he wrote about scooter libya who worked for vice president cheney. his attempt to intimidate saf this was a blatant attempt to politicize intelligence that are assigned 33 years in the business and it would not be the last attempt. what impact is this politicizing of intelligence have been? and does it distort what the cia is doing? is the cia able to stand up to the president and say no? >> let me talk about this is remember i said there were two big judgments on iraq prior to the war. weapons of mass destruction and iraq and al-qaeda. on iraq and al-qaeda but we said was what analyst believe was there were some historic conversations between iraqi intelligence and al-qaeda but
that as of 2002 there was no current relationship between iraq and al-qaeda but there was no iraq involvement in 9/11. it was not even iraqi foreknowledge of 9/11. they were as surprised as we were. that's a we said right? scooter libya did not like what we said. he believed there was a connection. he thought we were wrong right and after we put this paper at the said what i just said, he called my boss and told her to withdraw the paper and fix it because it was wrong. we just put her hands up and said no we are not doing that. i told you earlier we are nonpartisan, we call it like we see it. we are the umpire the referee. we call it like we see it. we didn't budge, we didn't budge. scooter libya called john mclaughlin was been the deputy director of the cia to complete about the paper, and george kennan and john mclaughlin said no. stop.
and then president bush did something really, really important. some of bob's who scooter libya called and said with a draw this and she refused she briefed president bush on christmas eve in 2002 went to camp david to give him his daily intelligence briefing to at the end as she was getting up to go president bush said, just one more thing. i've heard about this issue regarding iraq and al-qaeda effort about the pressure on you guys. i just want you to know that i have your back and watching to continue to call it like he sees it. very, very important thing for the present the united states is a. but in my experience of 33 years i have never seen an analyst buckle under to anybody trying to get them to say anything that they don't believe. we trained analysts, we beat it
into them they are proud of it. they really call it like they see it and they don't budge depression to affect the pressure strengthens their back even more. >> let's talk about osama bin laden. some of this material was just released a few days ago. some of his notes and some of the books that he's been reading and so on and so forth. he says that al-qaeda sought opportunities in the arab spring, which is something that it seems the west didn't necessarily recognize. tell me about that. >> so with regard to the arab spring there was a couple of things that we got right and to a couple of things we got wrong. and by the way, one of the points i want to make here is that the work that the agency's asked to do is really hard. the end of us only get heart problems. they don't get the easy stuff. they only get the hard questions
and to get those things right, indication they get some things wrong. so arab spring first of all, we provided what we called strategic warning. what does that mean? four years we have been telling presidents, national security teams, congresses multiple congresses that there were pressures building in the arab world that were unsustainable. that there were political pressures, economic pressure demographic pressures, societal pressures were building for change. and we wrote that over a period of years in depth. we provided strategic warning on the arab spring. what we didn't do one of the things we didn't get quite right is we didn't call, we didn't provide the legal tactical warning. tactical warning this we think this place is going to blow up over the next six months. we think that we've reached a
tipping point. that's very difficult to see coming. we didn't see it. we didn't write it, okay? shame on us. we could've done a better job mining social media to see what the arab spring was thinking and saying to each other. could've done a better job. once the spring happened we got something really important right, and that is something important robert thing they got right was a says tunisia happened we said this has the potential to be a contagion. this has the potential to spread. >> and that was the first real uprising? >> tunisia was the first and we said it would spread before egypt even begin to show that it was a shaky. so we got that right. we mail back. but the thing we didn't get quite right was the analysts said as soon as the air spring started, that the arab spring was going to undermine al-qaeda. and their argument was that it
was going to undermine al-qaeda because it was going to undercut their narrative that violence was necessary for political change. and they may have been right about that, but what they missed were two other really powerful dynamic -- dynamics that turned out to make the arab spring and al-qaeda spring which is the title of the chapter, a title in the book about this particular, these two particular dynamics. and they are number one the arab spring undercut the willingness of some arab countries to fight extremism inside their borders. best example is egypt under president marcy where the guys who i thought terrorists for years in egypt still have the same capability but didn't think they had the political top cover anymore to fight tears. so they stopped. and al-qaeda came back to egypt for the first time in 25
years. within a matter of weeks back and egypt back in business. any other dynamic was, was ready countries who had enlisted fight extremism inside their border but don't have the capability. because there institutions that were there to fight al-qaeda and fight extremists were significantly weakened by the arab spring. best example, libya. where the government to oppose gadhafi government wanted to fight terrorism but the military was gone, the intelligence services got into security services contracts of those two dynamics significantly overpowered the dynamic of the analysts. >> is some of it that we see other parts of the world in our own image when, in fact, they are not? >> no. if cia have any bias it's toward singh the glass half empty rather than half-full. their bias is to see the downside, not the upside.
>> look, i wish i could lighten things up but this is serious stuff. let's talk about waterboarding. you talk about it at great length in the book if you talk about all of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which some critics call torture and the one that you point out that you would have serious doubts about the reservations, were waterboarding. i got the feeling that mixed feelings about it. >> this is really is a really important issue, a real important issue. the first thing you need to know is that this was not just cia's program. this was america's program. what do i mean by that? the cia conceived it. the cia carried out but it did so at the direction of the president of the united states. it did so with the approval of the rest of the national security team. it did so with the approval of
the department of justice who said it was legal. we will come back to that. and it did so with the approval of the leadership of both intelligence committees in congress, democrat and republican. this was america's program. it's very important to remember that. this was not some rogue cia operation. second thing, i talked about context and iraq case. what's the context here? the context is again 9/11 3000 people had just been killed. cia had credible information that there was a second wave attack planned. so there was a second wave of attacks coming at us that with the equivalent size of 9/11. credible information. the cia had information at the time that he did know if it was kabul or not but it turned out to be true that osama bin laden was meeting with pakistani nuclear scientist to try to get his hands on a nuclear weapon. the cia had information at the time it did it was credible or
not, it turned out not to be that al-qaeda was trying to smuggle a nuclear weapon into new york city. so the level of the threat in the oval office every morning was the top of the feeling. george tenant and i used to walk into the oval office and say to ourselves as were walking in is today that they were going to get a can? that's what it felt like. it felt like the ticking timebomb scenario, rydquist the other part of the context is that because the pakistanis agreed to work with us against al-qaeda, the pakistani started to rush things to senior al-qaeda operatives who we believe have information related to these plots ever done to present about every morning. the other part of the context is that facing al-qaeda guys that counter interrogation training and were not responding to traditional interrogation techniques. and the counterterrorism got at the cia came to director tenant and said he says to but these
plots. traditional interrogation techniques are not working. with a great to try these enhanced techniques. or they said we think americans are going to die. george tenet had the same conversation with white house and enhance education program was born. that's the context. pushes cells in tissues of george tenet, put yourself in the shoes of the president. without this estimate it would take a look at it from a breakdown analytically. therefore, questions i think that matter. one is was illegal? and i know there's debate about that now but at the time the department of justice said on multiple occasions this is not torture, this does not violate u.s. of torture statutes or u.s. treaty obligations with regard to torture. this is legal. this is not torture. that's what i react so strongly somebody calls it torture.
because the department of justice said it was a. number two was a defective? i'll be very honest with you, there is a strong disagreement here between the democrats on the senate intelligence committee which produced a report a couple years ago just released publicly less than a year ago that said that the cia did not get a single piece of useful information from enhanced interrogation. >> diane feinstein. >> diane feinstein. the cia says just the opposite the that ciss enhanced interrogation techniques produced a boatload of intelligence that stopped attacks stopped attacks stabilize and took additional senior al-qaeda guys off the battlefield. big difference. where's michael morell on this right? i did know about the enhanced interrogation program until 2006. by 2006 mike hayden was trying to wind this thing done trying to find a way to end this
program. we will not be in this business for the long term. and so i didn't take -- pay a lot of attention a lot of attention because were essentially out of the business by 2006. but i did pay attention to my last month on the job. as acting director and deputy director i was overseeing the agencies response to the dianne feinstein report. and so i really studied the issue, and i can tell you that i convinced myself, i went into it with an open mind. i wasn't part of this thing or the other i was and tried to protect anybody. i went into with an open mind and i look at it closely, and i convinced myself that they were effective, absolutely effective. let me tell you why i came to that conclusion. because i look at information that the detainees provided before enhanced interrogation techniques. it was not full answers to questions but it was not specific information and it was not actionable, couldn't do anything with it.
after enhanced interrogation techniques, full answers to questions, specific information from actionable information. no doubt in my mind they were effective. no doubt in my mind that the senate report is wrong in that regard. third question come was a necessary to do these things? it can be effective but nasa necessary. was there another way to get information? the honest answer to that is we will never know. we will never know. and that's true with almost every decision that anybody makes. so was it necessary to drop two atomic bombs on japan to bring about this when a japanese at the end of world war ii? we will never know. wasn't necessary for abraham lincoln to send habeas corpus to win the civil war? we will never know. the necessity question is not what i find particularly interesting. the last question i think is the most important. even if it's illegal and even if
it's effective, is it the right thing to do? is did the right thing to do morally, to inflict these harsh techniques on another human being? the first thing you have to look at is each techniques separately. you can't a bunch them together to one of the techniques was simply grabbing somebody by the lapels if they were not paying attention to you during an interrogation. i'm not going ask you to ray shands but i bet you the vast majority of you would say hey, that's okay. you got to look at the '20s individually. they go all the way back to waterboarding, right? so you go from the kind of benign to the extremely harsh when you ask this question about morality and right or wrong. but a lot of people, and by the way, the senate report never ever dealt with this most difficult question the morale the question the right and wrong question. never ever talk about it. some people think it's easy.
some people look at one side of his morality going and say and say how good the united states of american, which stands for human freedom and human dignity in the world, do these things to another human being? and so some people make it sound easy, but the other side of the morality coin is how could you not do these things if you believe that you need to do in order to save american lives? these are decisions for the president and the president made this decision. now, with regard to my own views on waterboarding. if i were captured by the enemy and i were grabbed by the lapels, what i combat and say -- come back and i was tortured? know. if i were captured by the enemy and i was waterboarded i come back and said i was tortured?
you that i would. so i am uncomfortable, i am uncomfortable with waterboarding waterboarding. but here's my moral dilemma, and i write about this in the book. here's my moral dilemma. when i was looking at the program in debt and looking at question of effectiveness, do you know what technique was by far the most effective? waterboarding. so the one that i most uncomfortable with was the most effective. so this is not easy not easy at all. my final point here is that if you think this is something the american people need to know about. immediate needs to talk about. academic need to talk about. historians need to talk about it. one of the countries responded to 9/11, but i want all the facts out there. i want the real history of this program out there. and what a cynic and what the senate produced them with the senate intelligence committee produced in the senate democrats produced isn't anywhere near
close to the real history. i want the real history out there and then let's talk about it. >> we are going to take questions now from you, and we have folks that have microphones were roaming around. so maybe raise your hand. we have a question right here in the front row. >> thank you. very, very interesting. if you were talking with an analyst, domestic analyst, who is just starting out, what one piece of advice would you give them, and maybe what to book recommendations necessary books to be, what would those be? >> great questions. the one piece of advice that i would give them is this really weird thing that i've done every day of my life ever since i started work.
which is when i went home that night, at the end of the day i would ask myself how did you do today and how could you have done better. and in that conversation with myself, i was harder on myself than any boss ever was. and then i took the actions that were kind of dictated by that pretty harsh self-assessment. and i think that is the reason why i progressed as fast as i did because i learned a lot from what i did every day. i still do it. i go back to the hotel tonight and i would think about how did you do with the folks at the nixon library, and how could you have done better. that's just can't it's kind of how i am wired. that would be my one piece of advice to anybody in any job including being an analyst at the cia. in terms of books to read that's a really tough one.
you know i would tell them to read the great war of our time. just kidding. >> i knew that was coming. >> that was a gimme. >> i would tell them just to read as much as you possibly can, right and particularly about the part of the world that you're responsible for. just read everything that's ever been written. one of the things, one of the characteristics of being as successful as someone who i call intellectual curiosity. they are not satisfied with the service can they really want to get deep. you i cannot somebody wants to read all that stuff. if you are the vladimir and russia agreed everything that has been written about vladimir putin. >> thank you. we had a question right here in the back row. >> my question is what i your thoughts on the valley of predictive analytics --
[inaudible] >> that's a good question. look, a lot of people think that the main job of cia analysts to predict the future. it's not. it's not at all. there are really two jobs. one job this is a what's happening today. so what's the status of iranian nuclear program today. once the capabilities of al-qaeda in yemen today. what are they planning today? so a lot of work is what's going on today and how do you think about it. that's the both of the work that analyst do. what did you think about the future, they to predict the future. what they try to do is tell you the key factors that will determine what the future looks like. that's a lot more important to a policymaker than getting a prediction of the future.
because knowing the factors that will determine the future gives policymakers ideas about how to invalids what the future might look like. and simply saying here's what the future is going to look like is not helpful. and so if somebody can actually tell what the future could look like i want to talk to them but i've never found anybody who can. and so this approach to just talking but the factors that would determine the future is much more powerful in my mind. >> we have a question to your right. >> i. thank you for coming and sharing this with us today. my question is, isn't it a possibility when benghazi was going on and the first thing that happened was kind of a roux and maybe because we didn't do anything about it they said, hey, america doesn't care and maybe they were prepared to come in and do what they did speak with so i don't think it was a real. it wasn't, they didn't like we
will contest this and see how they respond and then do more if they don't respond. i don't think that's not the way they think. they attacked the place. and when it wasn't a response absolutely they would continue but it's not like they tested it. certainly if there had been a response from if his response was available they wouldn't have ever had the second and third attack the that is absolutely right but i don't think that's the way they thought about it. >> by the way there was a video of the attack right speak was yes. >> which they never released. >> and i'll tell you that intelligence community jim clapper was a great american was in favor of releasing the video. i was in favor of releasing the beauty because i think if you see the video you say oh that's not a military assault. that's more like a mob. and i wanted badly others all the american people could see
it. >> who didn't want it out there? >> i think it was, you know, a view that you don't want to release that kind of stuff that you do what is it a precedent for releasing it all the time but i can't tell you why. the only thing i can tell you is that jim and i were in favor of it and we did not win the day. >> from a gentleman to your left. >> director, my question is a little bit outside the middle east. what's your assessment of russia and the baltic states in the region? >> that's a great question. so you know context is everything so let me give you the three pieces of context i think are important to understand what russia is doing and what russia and ukraine is all about. the first is what is putin trying to do? and if he were here right now and you are all his oligarch buddies and asked him what are
you doing, what are you doing and ukraine where they would tell you and you would use these words, he would tell you i want to reestablish the russian empire. i want to reestablish the russian empire and you would take what does that mean? he would say i want to control or of a significant influence in every part of the world that used to be part of the russian empire, which just happens to be matched up pretty closely to the former soviet union by the way. this is what he wants his legacy to be. this is long-term for him. by the way he thinks he will be running that country for the next 20-25 years. he's not going anywhere, and it's my. the second piece of context is that every part of the former soviet union from every part of the former russian advice important to him but ukraine is particularly important ukraine is particularly important for a couple of reasons.
when his history. when the original russian state was founded in like nine or 10 b.c., i never studied ukraine was part of russia and the capital was in moscow. it was in key of pixel if you're in russia you think of ukraine as part of russia -- kiev. the other part of this is ethnicity. russians are slobs, ukrainians are slobs. they think of each other as brothers. -- slavs. vladimir putin's fear is the people of russia going to wake up someday and to have their own arab spring. they will come out in the streets of moscow and they will say we don't like the direction you are taking our country. we don't like you anymore. we want you to go away and want a greater say in how we are governed. he is scared to death of that. where did that happen? it happened in the streets of
kiev. it happened in the slavic countries pretty does not want to have what happened in enhanced interrogation techniques -- kiev in what happened to moscow. so ukraine is important and that's the second piece of content. the third piece is who is this guy and how does he think? advocate bob gates put it best when you look in his eye you see the kgb, kgb kgb. he is a thug. i hope he is losing right now. is a thug. he is a bully. he only understands relative power. strength and weakness. he does not believe something that every western businessman believes that it's possible to sit down in a negotiation and have a win-win outcome. he only believes in win-lose and he's got an entrepreneurial risk-taking personality which is he's a risk taker but he's a particular kind of risk-taking that makes them very, very dangerous. when he takes a risk and
believes he succeeds as he has done in the ukraine he's often willing to take an even bigger risk and that's why i worry about the baltics. because he was willing to go to war in ukraine. we were not. but in the baltics i actually think nato is going to go to war over the baltics and i hope he understands that. >> we have a gentleman in the second row. >> you mentioned weapons of mass destruction and how intelligence across the world predicted that saddam hussein had been. well, i do know that it very active program in biological warfare which was housing trucks -- [inaudible] and i do remember reports stating that as we were preparing and getting troops on the border of iraq great transports of large vans were
headed to syria which i think probably related to his program of biological warfare. could you tell us a little bit about that? >> i so wish that you were right about this program being shipped off history because then we wouldn't have been wrong unfortunately there was never any evidence, real evidence that in shipping anything to syria when the u.s. went in and didn't find anything and we were wrong. i wish, i so wish you were right about syria. >> we have time for one more question. identify growth. >> i would like you to address information about isil. i would like to know you said the baath party made a part of a separate but also the coming from and why did iraqis drop all their equipment and run when they know they will be slaughtered by tim? >> so that's a great question, where did i so come from.
some people call the isil some people call them daesh come all sorts of things. where did they come from? so they came from what was called al-qaeda in iraq. basically change the name. .com to that in a second but al-qaeda in iraq became a group after the u.s. invaded iraq and they became what are the opposing forces to the quote u.s. occupation. al-qaeda in iraq. and they got their men largely from the sunni population, including some people who used to work for the iraqi government. and they ended up fighting the u.s. for a long period of time. we ended up killing many of them on the battlefield, the battlefields of iraq. they ended up killing many american soldiers themselves. but by the time that i left militarily left iraq at the end of 2011, al-qaeda in iraq was at its weakest point. it was at -- but almost
immediately after the kind of military left, al-qaeda in iraq started to rebound it started to rebound for two reasons. number one the military pressure was taking off because of the u.s. military and u.s. intelligence work very effective in helping the iraqis take on al-qaeda in iraq so the pressure was removed and they immediately started to rebound. ..
so they go across the border and that is when you change because you can be fighting in the area and they called al qaeda in iraq. today rebranded themselves as isis. three things happen in the area that made them really strong. the first was they got their hands on a whole bunch of new recruits, both syria and sunni who join as well as foreign fighters flowing into syria to fight the civil war and join a says. i'll bought more men. they got their hands on a lot more money. the way you get money in the terrorism business is to be successful. but they get donations and financing is by being successful. they got themselves a lot of money.
they also got themselves a lot of weapons because they were overrun in the syrian government of weapons not filed. so they went from their weakest point at the end of 2011 to an incredibly strong position by late 2013 early 2014. a lot of territory in syria and they go back into iraq into this across iraq, which would not have been possible without what happened, which is the iraqi military melted away. the iraqi military melted away largely because of prime minister maliki's mismanagement of the military. he put incompetent she officers in charge of the military and in a short period of time they destroyed what the united states had created in terms of the iraqi military. that is what happened. that is where we are.
isis is a very significant threat to the stability of the middle east. that is why we are doing what we are doing. they're a moderate terrorist threat to us today. al qaeda actually in yemen and another al qaeda group in syria and al qaeda impact and al qaeda impactor still a greater threat to us. given enough time and iraq in the area, isis will pose the kind of threat that we are now wonder. >> thank you director morell. please give both a round of applause. [applause] director morell will be available to sign your books and take ph